Does Online Dispute Resolution exist in India?
Online Dispute Resolution? You are talking about resolving disputes online?
That’s a thing for the future. Won’t work now!
It may be working well in the UK or USA.
But India? Are you out of your mind? We have no ODR websites here. There is a lot of resistance in our judiciary. People won’t even have faith in an ODR mechanism. It will take a long time.
Well, surprisingly, the answer is “NO”.
The primary reason we started this blog on ODR and a page on Facebook was that we felt that there was an urgent need to promote this concept of dispute resolution in India. WE HAVE THE LARGEST BACKLOG OF DISPUTES IN THE WORLD! We need such alternative platforms and innovative methods of dispute resolution more than the UK and US!
Sunny Deol screaming ‘Taareekh par Taareekh’ cannot be the image that our judiciary represents anymore.
So, we started with our research and, to our surprise, we found something which was quite a jaw-dropper.
Online Dispute Resolution has been in existence in India for a long time!
Techno Legal Centre of Excellence for Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) in India (TLCEODRI) has been dealing with ODR related issues since 2005. Chittu Nagarajan, co-founder of Modria ( which is the most renown ODR platform of the world) started ODR India in 2004. Perry4law, which is known as the first techno legal law firm of India, is also working on building the ODR India mechanism.
But unfortunately, the impact of this field wasn’t effective enough in the initial stages. The reasons can be any ranging from the digital divide in India, lack of technological penetration, mindset of the people or just poor execution.
But it’s been a decade since then and things are changing. We have more and more ODR platforms come up in the recent years. Some important ones you should know of-
- Based at Rajiv Gandhi Chandigarh Technology Park in Chandigarh. Presence in over 90 major cities in India
- Purpose is to act like a ‘ONE STOP SHOP’ to assist Indian Consumers; It will help you in following up with the merchant, complaining to Police/Regulatory Agencies and Consumer Court
- Founded by “MyShikayat” group, a promoter of “India Debt Recovery” which is world’s leading and India’s No 1 Bad Debt Recovery Specialist Group since 2006
- It is the official Dispute Resolution and Debt Recovery service provider for Google, Yahoo, HP, Pepsi etc
- Launched recently on 19th September 2015 and is still in the beta stage
- A venture of Yessettle Legal Services LLP backed by a team of Legal Experts from different fields in society i.e. Lawyers, Retired Judges, Chartered Accountants, Social Workers, Retired Sr. Government Officials and Retired Sr. Bank Officials etc.
- Enables users to resolve disputes with anyone in the world through the process of online mediation and negotiation
- Youngest ODR paltform of India, launched in 2016, is based in Delhi
- Prime objective is to resolve the consumer disputes between the Consumer and the Company amicably without litigation.They represent and assist the Consumers in a professional and credible manner before the Appropriate Authority/Forum/Tribunal dealing with the issue
- This website has some interesting features which you should took note of:
- They have a history of seeking no adjournments.
- They assure of providing best efforts in resolving the complaints within 15-20 days.
- They have a special “tracking status” feature which helps consumers to track the status of their complaints through a unique Complaint ID No.
- They provide special assistance to senior citizens.
- Known as the Consumer Online Resource and Empowerment Center(CORE).
- They provide E-mediation service for consumer complaints
- It is managed by Consumer Coordination Council (CCC) and supported by the Department of Consumer Affairs, Ministry of Consumer Affairs and Food and Public Administration.
- It has been functional since 15th April, 2005. Their last progress report of November,2014 says that they have received a total of 2,36,538 complaints since the inception.
- They also claimed to have a resolution rate of 68 percent in the month of November,2014.
Before publishing my blog, I generally send it to my brother for proofreading. I did the same with this blog. By the way, he is a 27 year old investment banker in Mumbai who is a regular consumer of e-commerce products.
Unfortunately, he was not aware of the existence of any of these ODR websites in India. But, to be honest, this wasn’t really surprising.
In this last year, we have discussed this idea of ODR with a lot of people including family, friends and law students, among others. Awareness is clearly lacking. Further, there is a clear resistance towards this new approach of resolving disputes. No matter how much we hate the courts, there is still an inherent respect for the judiciary and people are not willing to change and use any new alternative mechanism.
On the other note, there is no denial that every new idea is met with scepticism and cynicism. The execution is extremely important. People need to be made aware of such mechanisms. There is a need for steady trust building.
So has ODR been a success in India? Have these Online Dispute Resolution mechanisms succeeded in generating the trust of the Indian public? Is there enough awareness about such innovative ODR websites?
It is too early to comment.
All these ODR initiatives are operational with the purpose to improve the accessibility aspect of our justice system by providing such alternative online platforms. Some of these platforms are quite recent. They are working hard towards making ODR a reality in India.
This is going to be a long journey.
We wish them all the luck in the world.